Numb Lips, Tongue, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Why is my lip  numb? Is it caused by allergies to food or medication? A numb lip or tongue can be bothersome if not causing trouble. What are the likely causes of lips that are numb? Among others, diabetes, anxiety or any other underlying medical condition can be attributed for face, tongue or numb lips. In this page, we have covered comprehensively the causes, symptoms and treatment for this condition.

A numb or tingling feeling on lips could have several possible. These symptoms could also be a clear sign of underlying condition such as canker sores. Dr. Loza H. Jemjem, MD confirms that there are different reasons your lips and tongue may feel numb or tingly.  She says that these symptoms can be felt by those who have an allergic reaction to either food or medicines.

Lip Numbness Causes
Lip Numbness Causes

If the numbness or tingling is felt on the face, then this could be a sign of stroke. A stroke occurs when blood flow is interrupted to part of the brain. The brain cells will begin to due to lack of blood that supplies oxygen and nutrients and also responsible for removing waste products. Common causes of numb lips are the result of exposure to cold temperatures.

Other causes will include mild allergic reaction or medication side effects. The numbness can also be a sign of neuropathy, in which the nerves found on lips cannot carry a signal between the lips and the brain.

Numb Lips Symptoms

Numb lips may occur as symptoms of a serious life-threatening condition. A common such condition is anaphylaxis a life-threating allergic reaction. You need to call or seek immediate medical attention if the numbness is accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Difficulties in breathing
  • Shortness or lack of breath
  • Wheezing especially in children
  • And swelling of the mouth, lips, and throat.

    Tingling or Numb Lips and Tongue Symptoms
    Tingling or Numb Lips and Tongue Symptoms

Numb Lips Causes

Tingling or numb lips can be said to be the abnormal feeling where there is decreased or absent feeling in the lip. These sensations are medically referred to as paresthesia. These symptoms arise from conditions affecting sensory nerves in the lip. The sensation does not, however, result from neurological diseases.

Certain skin disorders may also result in the numbness or tingling. When this is the underlying causes, rather than numbness, the lips will show symptoms such as itching, burning sensation and pain. The common causes of tingling or numbness will include the following:

Allergy and numb lips

Allergic reaction to food and medicine is a major cause of tingling and numb lip, especially for pregnant women. After an allergic reaction, the tingling in the mouth, itchy throat or skin appear. This is not permanent, the symptoms last for some hour then clear on their own.

Other symptoms of an allergic reaction will include nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness and shortens in breath. Stop taking the foods because the allergy to remedy this effect, if thus does not help, please see medical attention.

Mineral deficiency

Lack of certain mineral in your body can also result in the tingling and numbness in lips. Hypocalcemia, hypokalemia and reduced levels of sodium, potassium or phosphate can result in this symptoms. Food supplements can help remedy this. Seek medical attention for help.

Raynaud’s disease

This is a condition characterized by spasm of the arteries in extremities most commonly the fingers. The condition is common in cold temperatures. It is known to cause pallor, pain, numbness and in severe cases gangrene. Treatment for this condition will depend on its severity and whether or not you have other underlying medical condition.

Shingles on face causing tingling and numbness

Shingles, an acute inflammation of the nerve ganglia with a skin eruption. It is caused by varicella-zoster virus, the same virus known to cause chicken pox. Shingle will in most cases affect one side of your body. Signs and symptoms of shingle will include:

Burning sensation, numbness or tingling

A red rash that begins a few days after the pain and tingling

Itching and inflammation of the skin.


Leprosy is a rare condition that affects the skin and could lead to the tingling or numbness on lips. The condition is highly contagious and affects the mucous membrane and nerves causing discoloration and lump on the skin. Disfigurement and deformities can be experienced in severe cases.

Numb Lips Anxiety

Could the numbness and tingling on lips be a sign of anxiety attack? By definition, an anxiety attack is a short period of strong fear that happens for no particular reason. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as panic attack. Somme people may develop the attack only once whereas for others it could be an ongoing problem.

When these attacks happen more than twice in a month, then it is possible you have a condition known as panic or anxiety disorder. The actual cause of these attack is not known. However, certain health condition or medicines may cause anxiety attack symptoms. Some people will also develop these symptoms when they withdraw from alcohol or using other hard drugs.

According to an online group,, numbness, and tingle are major symptoms of anxiety. With tingling caused by anxiety, you feel as though a part of your skin or body feels numb to touch.  The affected apart may also feel like it has been frozen with anesthesia. The numb patches may be small or involve many parts of the body.

The numbness and tingling may at times be accompanied by pins, itching, and burning skin sensation.  According to the group [], when the tingling and numbness are caused by apprehensive behavior accompanying stress response, calming yourself can bring an end to the stress response and its accompanying changes.  As the body recovers from active stress response, the feeling will subdue and you will return to your normal self.

When the numb lips are caused by persistent stress, then it will take a lot more time for the body to recover to a point where the symptoms are eliminated out completely. Nevertheless, once your body recovers, the symptoms will subdue completely.

To speed up the rate of recovery, you need to reduce stress and anxiety. This can be done by:

  • Practicing relaxed breathing
  • Regular rest and relaxation
  • Stop worrying about the feeling
  • Trying out some light yoga
  • meditation
  • aromatherapy
  • listen to relaxing music
  • drink tea
  • regular exercise

Numb Lips Diabetes

Yes, tingling and numbness on lips and tongue can be a clear sign of low blood sugar levels. If you are experiencing persistent tingling and numbness, it is good to consider testing your blood sugar level. Low blood sugar also knows as hypoglycemia or insulin shock is not just a concern for people with type 1 diabetes. Though rare, those with type 2 diabetes are also at risk of developing this kind of symptoms.

When your body’s blood sugar level drops below 70 mg/dl, this is considered low, this means your body is unable to provide for energy needs. When left untreated, these low level could cause harm or even death.

Mild symptoms of low blood sugar will include perspiration, shaking and trembling, mouth or lips tingling and numbness, numbness and tingling of fingers and rapid heartbeat. If you have been experiencing the above symptoms, test the blood sugar if it is confirmed you have diabetes, do the following:

  • Eat at least 15grams of fast acting carbohydrates.
  • wait for some minute then test the blood sugar again
  • repeat until blood sugar is within normal range

If you will not eat a meal within an hour, make sure to eat 15-30 grams carbohydrate snack.

Numb Lips during Pregnancy

For most women, pregnancy brings lots of change some of which do not relate to the pregnancy. Before delivering, most pregnant women will experience multiple numbness and tingle in different parts of the body. This will include the arm, feet, lips, tongue, mouth and many others.

For diabetic women, these symptoms can be felt more often compared to those with normal blood sugar. Allergic reaction to food is a common cause of the numbness and tingling on lips. Most women become allergic to food they were not allergic to before. The allergic reaction can cause the tingling and numbness in mouth, tongue, and lips.

The other common cause of these symptoms during pregnancy is a condition known as Bell’s palsy, though it can affect anybody, it is common during pregnancy. The condition is a temporal facial paralysis due to trauma or damage to the 7th facial cranial nerve. The condition could cause a paralytic attack to either a part or the entire face.

Spinal compression is the other possible cause of numbness. As the baby grows, its weight is at the highest, spinal compress can occur. The nerve in the spine is compressed and temporal numbness could be felt in the back. It is possible for the numbness to travel to the mouth and lips. Nerve compress in your back or leg could also have the same effect.

Numb Lips and Tongue

Numb lips and tongue is common and harmless. Once the underlying cause of the numbness is resolved, the symptom will clear completely. It is very important to check with your doctor to know what exactly the underlying cause of the tingling is. Some cause like low blood sugar can be serious and could lead to death when left unchecked for long.

Hyperventilation is a common cause of lip tingling and numbness. This condition is common when a person is under intense stress or panic attacks. In this state, a person inhales and exhales in rapid succession. This will cause a shortage of carbon dioxide gas in the blood. This is what will lead to more anxiety, the person can thereafter experience numbness in lips, feet and hands.

The same symptoms can be caused by a condition known as hypocalcemia. This is a condition where a patient loses calcium in his blood. He condition occurs as a result of using certain medicine or as a symptom of a different underlying medical condition.  Those with this condition will experience muscle twitching and spasm, numbness o lips and most often, pain.

Multiple sclerosis is the other common cause numbness on lips and tongue. This is an auto immune disorder where the myelin sheath of the nerve cells get inflamed and later gets damaged. This prevents the interchange of the signal from one nerve cell to the other. The breakdown of communication between the nerves is what causes the numbness in lips, face and any of the affected body part.

Numb Lips and Fingers

As said, numbness and tingling can happen on any body part. On lips and finger, numbness can be caused by Raynaud’s phenomenon. This is a disorder in which the blood vessels present under the skin of finger and toe becomes constricted. This vasospastic attack stops the flow of oxygen in the blood vessels. The skin will turn blue or white in some cases. Those suffering from this condition will feel tingling in lips, earlobes, and nose.

Another condition that could cause the numbness on finger is Guillen-barre syndrome. This is an autoimmune disorder in which the myelin sheath get inflamed and later damaged. The damage prevents the communication between nerves leading to partial paralysis. Unless the disease is spreading too fast, no medication is required to treat the condition.

Lyme disease caused by a tick that carries bacterium can also cause numbness on the site of the bite. When infected with this bacterium from the ticks, one can easily contract meningitis and Bell’s palsy. Tingling and numbness of lips are a common symptom of the two infections.

Numb Lips and Headache

Migraine headache, a recurrent headache that typically affects one side of the head and often accompanied by nausea and disturbed vision. Irritation of the cervical nerves, trigeminal nerve or part of the spinal cord are responsible for numbness and tingling on head and face.

Common in pregnant women, numb lips will in most cases be accompanied by headaches. You need to seek medical attention to establish the underlying cause of the numbness and headaches. The actual cause of migraine headache is unknown, it is however thought to be caused by abnormal brain activity. This causes a temporary alteration in the nerve signals, chemical and blood flow in the brain.

Numb Lips Heart Attack

A heart attack is sudden and sometimes a fatal occurrence of coronary thrombosis. This results in the death of part of the heart muscle. A heart attack occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked, this is often caused by a build-up of fat, cholesterol, and other substances. It is the interruption of blood flow that causes damage to part of heart muscles.

The risk of stroke, numbness, tingling of body parts and heart attack increase with the following factors: high blood pressures, obesity, excessive smoking, high blood cholesterol level and diabetes. A lifestyle change is required to remedy this.

Lip Numbness on one Side

Numbness on lips as said can either be on one side or both. This is commonly observed I people with a condition known as transient ischemic attack. This is a brief neurological dysfunction resulting from an interruption in blood supply to the brain or the eye. The condition is at times a precursor to stroke. It is commonly referred to as a mini-stroke.

The condition will cause symptoms such as speech and visual disturbance, numbness or weakness in the face, arms, and legs. Unlike a stroke, the effects do not last for long. The symptoms will only last for some minutes after which they clear and you are back to normal within 24 hours.

The following increases your chances of having a transient ischemic attack.

  • Excessive smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Having diabetes
  • Those with high cholesterol level
  • Not doing regular exercises
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity

Treatment for Numbness in Lips

Unless the underlying cause of the numbness is diagnosed, picking on a single option for treatment might fail to be effective. However, treating the underlying cause of the tingling is the best way to relieve and get rid of the symptoms.

It is important to seek medical diagnosis from a professional health care provider, who will run some test to establish the underlying cause of the symptom for effective medication and treatment. Even though this is the best way to handle the numbness, some simple remedy can be used to relieve the symptoms at home.

The remedies will include:

  • Applying petroleum jelly or lip balm, especially during cold temperatures, can offer relief for the tingling and numbness.
  • If you have the tingling try and avoid drinking carbonated drinks like soda until the tingling and numbness clears
  • When the cause of the numbness is an allergic reaction to drugs or medicine, then discontinue the medication and report the symptoms to your doctor. He or she will be able to prescribe a different medication or offer an alternative treatment for the condition you are suffering from.
  • Sometimes the numbness is caused by allergic reaction to foods and drinks. When this is found to be the case, you are advised to stop taking the foods. If the tingling does not stop after that, consult your doctor.
  • Regular exercises and other stress relieving techniques can also be used to relieve stress and panic attacks.
  • Those with low blood sugar are advised to take at least 15 grams of fast acting carbohydrates.

Sources and references


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